Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Noah is back on mission for all to see, and to hear
By John Romano
Published March 5, 2007
GAINESVILLE - The game was getting out of hand, and so was Joakim Noah. You might assume one led to the other, although not in the usual order.
You see, it was not the runaway score that led to Noah's pique on Sunday afternoon. No, it was more like Noah's rage that led to the lopsided result.
March has returned, and so has Noah's passion. He is shouting. He is punching his chest. He is pointing to the crowd, and teasing his rivals.
Oh, yeah, March has returned.
And so has Florida.
Turns out, the Gators have not forgotten how to strut. You can tell by the University of Kentucky residue on the bottom of their sneakers this morning.
They may have lost more games in 11 days than they had in the previous 11 weeks, but in their farewell to the 2006-07 regular season the Gators reminded the world that they remain the defending NCAA champions.
"There was no need to worry," senior Chris Richard said. "We still control our destiny. If we're passionate, if we play with intensity, we can win any game."
And that is where Noah fits in. He is not Florida's leading scorer. He does not lead the team in rebounds. To some, he has been a statistical disappointment.
But when it comes to energy and zeal, there is not a more dynamic player in the nation. Noah's game feeds off his passion, and the Gators feed off of Noah.
That is why the 85-72 victory against Kentucky was so crucial. It wasn't that Florida finished with the best regular-season record in school history (26-5), or that the Gators became the first Southeastern Conference team to beat the Wildcats in six consecutive meetings.
It was the way the junior forward rediscovered his mojo. It was the way he invigorated the crowd, and inspired his teammates. It was the reminder that, around this time last season, he was briefly the best player in college basketball.
"Everybody wants to criticize him. Everybody has these certain expectations for him," guard Taurean Green said. "We told him to just go out and be yourself. Be passionate. That's his deal. He loves doing that."
The advice is not as easy as it sounds. Because of his style, Noah is a target in visiting arenas. And because of his monster performance in the Final Four, he was expected to carry a team night after night.
The burden of those expectations seemed to show in the past couple of weeks. The Gators lost three of four games and, for the first time in two years, Noah had failed to score in double figures in three successive games.
"I made the comment before the season started that Joakim Noah is never living up to expectations. But no one seems to want to listen to me," coach Billy Donovan said. "They all want to pump up Joakim Noah and, when he doesn't play well, tear the kid down.
"Jo has finally realized, 'I just have to play up to the expectations of my coaches and teammates and do the very, very best I can.' It was good to see him get back to that energy level."
So there was Noah, pulling down a defensive rebound and driving the length of the court for a dunk. There was Noah pumping his fist and shouting at the crowd after slamming home a Corey Brewer pass.
And there was Noah, getting yanked from the lineup because he couldn't keep his mouth shut.
It was getting late in the game when Noah was called for a foul as Ramel Bradley attempted a 3-point shot. Bradley and Noah exchanged smack talk briefly, but Noah continued talking as the Kentucky guard was shooting his free throws.
After two of the three shots, referee Ted Valentine walked across the court and suggested to Donovan that his player was getting out of control. Donovan pulled Noah and gave him a quick lecture before sending him back.
"The referee did a great job," Noah, 22, said. "That was all on me."
And when it was all done, Noah had 17 points and 10 rebounds for his first double double since mid January. More important, the Gators had the look of champions for the first time in several weeks.
It would be wishful thinking to assume the Gators can romp through another March as if they are preordained for glory, but Sunday's game made you remember how good they can be when their hearts are fully committed.
"This game was important to prove to us, not to anyone else, what we can do," Noah said. "What I realized the last three weeks is if we don't play with focus and intensity, we're not going to be the same team."
On Sunday afternoon, the Gators were the same team you remembered. And, in many ways, the team you will never forget.